Naughty Dog president Evan Wells says the studio still hasn’t figured out how to balance two full productions at the same time.
Owing to the current state of AAA development in the games industry, many large studios right now attempt to have multiple games in development at the same time across multiple teams. However, Naughty Dog, arguably one of the biggest studios in the industry right now, has been struggling to find the balance to do that. Speaking recently with the AIAS on Game Maker’s Notebook, Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells discussed the same.
Wells explained that the studio attempted to move into multi-project development after Uncharted 2, when both The Last of Us and Uncharted 3 were intended to be in production at the same time- but the effort required to finish production on the latter ended up “stealing resources away” from The Last of Us’ development.
“We tried our first major multi-project development with The Last of Us,” Wells said (via VGC). “At the end of Uncharted 2, Bruce Straley and Neil Druckmann went off to start designing [that], although they did spend a good, solid three or four months working on Jak and Daxter before they decided to shelve it and focus on something new. They embarked on that and the idea was we would build a team around it and have two teams going at once, and we just did not achieve that at all.”
“The amount of effort that was required to finish Uncharted 3 at the time was stealing resources away from The Last of Us, and we never got to the point where we had two full productions going,” he continued. “I would say even today we’re just short of that. We definitely have multiple projects, but only one that is getting the lion’s share of focus at any time.”
Wells went on to explain that even right now, Naughty Dog only ever has one major game in full production at a time, and that other projects might be in pre-production at the time, or fresh out of pre-production at most.
“We don’t have two projects that have several hundred people on them,” he said. “We have one [project] and then some that are in pre-production, or maybe just creeping out of pre-production, but will have to wait until the main focus has completed before we move everybody off of that project.”
As for what Naughty Dog is working on right now, the studio seems to have plenty of irons in the fire. Reportedly, a remake of The Last of Us is in full production- but curiously enough, that happened partially because, at the time, Naughty Dog’s other projects were in early pre-production. Meanwhile, a multiplayer game (like The Last of Us) is also in the works, while it’s possible that a new IP (or maybe The Last of Us Part 3) might also be in the pipeline.